Sunday, May 24, 2009

Judge James Heath Kills Self After Drunk Driving Arrest


A Warren County Common Pleas Court judge who was arrested this weekend for the second time in seven months was found dead in his home the next day, according to police.

James Heath, 47, was found in the master bedroom of his Nunner Road home just after 2 p.m. Sunday, May 24, by his estranged wife, according to Hamilton Twp. Police Lt. Jeff Braley.

“She had been trying to reach him by phone and could not and went to check on him at the house,” Braley said.

Braley said although nothing has been confirmed, Heath’s death is being investigated as a suicide. An autopsy is scheduled to be performed Tuesday, May 26, he said.

Heath was arrested at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 23, at mile marker 11 on Ohio 48, according to Sgt. Karla Taulbee, spokeswoman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Transported to a patrol post, Heath refused a breathalyzer test, Taulbee said. He was charged with operating a vehicle while impaired and a marked lanes violation and released to someone who was able to drive, she said.

Heath was arrested last October in Clinton County on the same charge. He pleaded guilty in December to the lesser charge of reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

As a result of the plea, Heath was found not guilty of the original charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Warren County Judge Donald Oda II said Sunday he had known Heath for 14 years and was “completely shocked” when he heard of his death.

“We all thought the world of Judge Heath,” Oda said. “He was a good man. The Warren County judges ... our bench is certainly less today than it was yesterday.”

Warren County Commissioner C. Michael Kilburn said his heart goes out to Heath’s family. “We just never know what burdens people are carrying with them,” he said. “It’s just a terrible, terrible situation.”

Earlier this year, Kilburn criticized Heath for his behavior, showed a video of him pleading with a state trooper not to arrest him and called on him to resign. Following Kilburn’s comments, Heath admitted he made a mistake, apologized for his actions and said he was taking steps to ensure they did not happen again.

Heath, a Miami University graduate, first took the bench of the Warren County Court in December of 1994, according to the court’s Web site. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Gregory Rold Dies After Being Tasered


A 37-year-old Salem man is dead and four police officers were placed on administrative leave after an arrest for trespassing turned violent.

Four officers with the Salem Police Department were called to Carriage Apartments on SE Royvonne Ave. about 7:30 Saturday night after receiving reports of a trespasser. They found Gregory Rold in an apartment and tried to arrest him.

The police department said Rold "violently resisted arrest" and the officers had to use their tasers and batons to "subdue him." Salem Officer Jacob Pratt was injured during the arrest attempt and altercation, according to the department. He was treated at Silverton Hospital.

Neighbors said Rold had been living at his mother's apartment but had recently been banned from the complex for lude behavior.

"He supposedly had been exposing himself to one of the neighbors," said resident Brandy King. "He used to peek into our windows and say things to the other women around here," she said.

According to neighbors, Rold had been warned that if he returned to the apartment complex, he would be trespassing. They said he showed up around 6:30 Saturday night, and police were at his mother's apartment soon after.

"They (police) got in, you could hear a struggle and the next thing you heard were the tasers," said Shelietha Edwards, a neighbor.

What happened next, according to Edwards, had the entire complex in disbelief.

"I heard at least 13 tasers going off. I heard him being beaten with the night sticks and they let the dog attack him," recalled Edwards. "(Rold's) mom and brother were in the house watching and his mom went to the window and started telling everyone that they were killing her son," she said.

A statement from the department released to KGW on Sunday morning made no mention of excessive force or of a canine unit.

Once the officers had wrestled Rold to the ground and handcuffed him, they realized he was unconscious and unresponsive, according to the department.

"In the beginning, you could hear him yelling, screaming and then all of a sudden he was quite, but you still heard the tazers and you still heard the beating going on," said Edwards.

Officers tried to stabilize Rold and called for emergency medical assistance. He was taken by ambulance to Salem Hospital where he died about 9:30 p.m.

The four officers - Jacob Pratt, Eric Brown, Adam Waite and Corporal Darron Mumey - are on administrative leave while Rold's death is investigated by Oregon State Police and the Marion County District Attorney's Office.